President Obama knows how to win a war: declare victory and go home.
The president addressed the law, known as the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), toward the end of an hour-long speech largely devoted to explaining and defending his administration’s lethal drone program. He even referenced the fact that America is at war in defending the legality of the drone strikes.
But Obama made clear that his ultimate goal is to update, and then repeal, the use of force law, saying he wants to fight terrorism without keeping the country on a “perpetual war-time footing.”
“The AUMF is now nearly twelve years old. The Afghan War is coming to an end. Core Al Qaeda is a shell of its former self,” Obama said. “Unless we discipline our thinking our definitions, our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight, or continue to grant presidents unbound powers more suited for traditional armed conflicts between nation states.
“So I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate. And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further,” he said. “Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue. But this war, like all wars, must end. That’s what history advises. That’s what our democracy demands.”
Is the Afghan War coming to an end? Not for Afghans. Is “core Al Qaeda” a “shell”? (And isn’t that an oxymoron?) Does it matter, if Islamist terrorism carries on apace anyway? I don’t live in the same world he seems to.
If he doesn’t want to use the powers at his disposal, that’s his decision. But why tie the hands of future presidents who will face challenges Obama can’t even imagine? He seems to think his authority needs to be projected into the indefinite future.
But it is on Guantanamo that the president displays his best sleight of hand (tongue):
GTMO has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law. Our allies won’t cooperate with us if they think a terrorist will end up at GTMO.
During a time of budget cuts, we spend $150 million each year to imprison 166 people — almost $1 million per prisoner. And the Department of Defense estimates that we must spend another $200 million to keep GTMO open at a time when we’re cutting investments in education and research here at home, and when the Pentagon is struggling with sequester and budget cuts.
As President, I have tried to close GTMO. I transferred 67 detainees to other countries before Congress imposed restrictions to effectively prevent us from either transferring detainees to other countries or imprisoning them here in the United States.
Isn’t Gitmo subject to sequester cuts? Why should these guys not have to “pay their fair share”? Most of them are on a hunger strike, anyway, so the food budget could be cut.
But it takes a Code Pink moonbat to call out the president’s hypocrisy:
And given my administration’s relentless pursuit of al Qaeda’s leadership, there is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should have never have been opened. (Applause.)
AUDIENCE MEMBER: Excuse me, President Obama —
THE PRESIDENT: So — let me finish, ma’am. So today, once again –
AUDIENCE MEMBER: There are 102 people on a hunger strike. These are desperate people.
THE PRESIDENT: I’m about to address it, ma’am, but you’ve got to let me speak. I’m about to address it.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: You’re our Commander-In-Chief –
THE PRESIDENT: Let me address it.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: — you an close Guantanamo Bay.
THE PRESIDENT: Why don’t you let me address it, ma’am.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: There’s still prisoners –
THE PRESIDENT: Why don’t you sit down and I will tell you exactly what I’m going to do.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: That includes 57 Yemenis.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, ma’am. Thank you. (Applause.) Ma’am, thank you. You should let me finish my sentence.
I am lifting the moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen so we can review them on a case-by-case basis. To the greatest extent possible, we will transfer detainees who have been cleared to go to other countries.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: — prisoners already. Release them today.
THE PRESIDENT: Where appropriate, we will bring terrorists to justice in our courts and our military justice system. And we will insist that judicial review be available for every detainee.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: It needs to be –
THE PRESIDENT: Now, ma’am, let me finish. Let me finish, ma’am.
President Obama has been chief executive for 1,465 days—and just now discovers he has the powers to do what he’s been demanding be done all along? And rejects the powers that Congress granted the president to command forces against our foes in the war on terror?
I knew he was ass-backward, but this ass-backward? I guess that explains his posture.